WoW’s Borg strategy
This is not an exercise in WoW bashing.

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I play WoW and I the game.

I think it offers a great MMO experience. Heck, I’ve just starting leading a ten man Naxx group, which indicates my commitment to WoW. But having sampled other MMOs I can’t but smile when I see features of other games slowly find their way into WoW. Ever since WAR launched I’ve seen a number of it’s features become standard features of WoW.

But it’s no secret that Blizzard is somewhat Borg like (check ultra nerd reference there guys). They’re the biggest, baddest dudes on the block and grow by absorbing the technology of their enemies. They take the raw ideas of others and polish them.

Bit-by-bit WAR features are being assimilated.

WAR fell short, but it’s failure offers valuable lessons
I suggested in one of my previous articles that WAR relied on a strategy of innovating many of the features common to MMOs. However in doing so they diluted their efforts. WAR is one of the great “could’ a been” MMOs. It reached for greatness, but just fell short. It’s the Icarus of MMOs. It’s a game with beautiful artwork, interesting classes and a rich lore supporting it.

But with it the developers tried to do too much. However, other MMO developers have noticed some of the interesting features and have started to adopt them.

WAR may have suffered from not capitalising on it’s first mover advantage: it introduced novel concepts to the MMO genre, but failed to capitalise on them. The advantage then moves to the second  mover, who sees a good idea and grabs it. Clearly Blizzard is taking advantage of this position: watching competitors, analysing their success and failures and absorbing them.

Something borrowed, something WoW
So what are some of WARs features being assimilated by the master of polish at Blizzard?

WAR feature 1: instant PvP
One of the great features of WAR was joining a scenario from anywhere in the world. Simply click a button form the user interface (UI) and join a scenario. WoW now offers the very same feature. Perviously who had to find a Battle Master in one of the capital cities to join a Battle Grround (BG). Now, you can join a BG from anywhere in WoW.

WAR feature 2: open world PvP
Surely Wintergrasp (WG) was Blizzard’s counter to the promise of WARs RvR lakes? Both offer zones that each faction battles to control. The zones have strategic control points (keeps in WAR, workshops in WoW). You get rewards for controlling the zone. The battles are essentially the same experience: zerg v zerg.

WAR feature 3: WoWs Orcs and new Goblin race will mirror the Greenskins

Ere den? Wats this about gobbos in Azeroth den?

Ere den? Wats this about gobbos in Azeroth den?

Cataclysm will offer two new playable classes: Goblins and Worgen. The question is why are Goblins aligning themselves with the Horde? Why even make them a playable class. Well, the addition of Goblins to the Horde mirrors the Greenskins races of Destruction in Horde. Both are the “bad” side. Both offer Orcs, and now both offer Goblins as a playable race. Really, a Goblin Hunter will be WoW’s equivalent of a Greenskin Squig Herder. A Goblin warlock/mage is a Greenskin Shaman.

We did leave WAR and comes to WoW lads!

We did leave WAR and comes to WoW lads!

WAR feature 4: tracking quest objectives in map
This feature has not yet been implemented (did not make Patch 3.2), but will do so in the near future. WARs maps did this by shading quest areas of objectives in red. This made the entire PvE experience much easier, and was a well liked by players. WoW will add icons and the like on their maps, pointing players exactly where they need to go.

Learning from the enemy is a legitimate strategy
Is there anything wrong with this? Well you can QQ about Blizzard not being original… but we’re talking about fantasy computer games folks. Not great art.

All MMOs can trace their ancestry back to Lord of the Rings and Dungeon’s & Dragons. They all borrow  aspects of lore, gameplay etc. WoW was designed to be an easier version of EverQuest. EverQuest derived it’s inspiration from MuD games, but added a graphical interface. MuDs based themselves on D&D. D&D took it’s inspiration from table top games and Lord of the Rings… and so forth.

In the end adopting WAR features makes WoW a better game. From a customer perspective, I and the millions of other players “win”. Though it does make me a little sad that WAR could not have translated all their great ideas into the worlds #2 MMO.